A few years ago, ScotRail ran a very successful advert, one which some might even consider controversial. As I recall, the strapline was 'Morningside – Kelvinside'. It presented a neat juxtaposition between the two supposed genteel areas within Scotland's principal cities, done in the 'pan loafy' accent said to be common to the citizens of both protagonists. Though common in that sense, it would be welcomed by none.
I have been a resident of the fine suburb of Morningside for over 30 years now, so long in fact that I almost feel like an Edinburgher. However, I must stress that I am not. My wife is Edinburgh born and bred, and our three boys are 100% Morningsiders, the youngest recently opting to buy his first flat within the district.
I had reason to visit Glasgow last weekend and, unusually, it was not to visit my favourite place. This time, instead of the East End, I was heading up west to Kelvinside. My good friend and erstwhile contributor to SR, George Reid, had suggest a wee hurl across country ostensibly to visit the John Patrick Byrne exhibition in the magnificent Kelvingrove Museum and I signed up immediately. We caught the train to Queen Street, having been refused access to the Citylink bus because Daisy was barred. Not that she had been involved in any previous misdemeanour, just that they don't allow dogs. Anyway, ScotRail did us proud and placing no restrictions on our party, we headed west.
As a couple of middle-aged blokes, we are not shy of a stroll, so headed off along St Vincent Street towards our intended destination, which involved us having to pass through what I believe is referred to as the 'upcoming' area of Finnieston, with its fancy pubs and eateries. On route, we took a short detour down an almost derelict, part-hidden lane and found a bustling array of emporia. Shops ranged from a kind of reinvented Paddy's Market – where potential bargain hunters could rake among the muck in an attempt to locate the brass – to high-end retro shops, record stores and second-hand book shops. We could have stayed all day and chatted with the very helpful woman in the admin office for the businesses. It was an incredible find and one of many such locations around the West End – particularly in the lanes leading off from the Byres Road.
My friend stepped into the museum and I took a further dander around the area, taking in the magnificent, ancient buildings of the University of Glasgow, up to Great Western Road, down the Byres, and up to the stoops in Hyndland. By the time George phoned to say he was out, I decided I would give the exhibition a miss. Not because I do not love the works of the great man that is John Byrne, but because I was by this time caught up in the sights I was meeting around every corner.
Incidentally, I have in my possession a wonderful picture taken by my middle son Dominic of John Byrne. One of his assignments as a student was to photograph an aspect of the human form so Dominic took a flyer and contacted the great man. He, in his kindness, was only too willing to help a young aspiring photographer.
My conclusion is that Kelvinside, indeed the wider West End, is nothing like Morningside, and that to find a better truer comparison in the capital, you would have to look a few miles north to Stockbridge. It has an artistic ambience, captivating architecture such as St Bernard's Well and the magnificent vista over Dean Village, Stockbridge Market, antique and retro clothes shops in St Stephen Street, etc.
However, there is just something about the West End that knocks Edinburgh's equivalent into a cocked hat. I am struggling to best encapsulate the differences in words. The old industrial city just really has that je ne sais quoi
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